Sunday, May 05, 2019

Grief navigation tips: some to share, and I want some more, please

1.  Don't beat yourself up about falling off the whole30 wagon because all of the food and vodka you're surrounded with the the first few days after a loved one dies.  You are only human.  Also, life is obviously short.

2.  Preparation H works great for puffy grief eyes.  I am also eying one of these facial rollers, and I bought a gel bead sleep mask that I can put in the freezer.

3.  You can actually be too sad to sleep.  Did you know that?  The night my dad died, I was up almost the whole time.  I would drift off for a second, have a weird dream, startle a little, and then remember that my dad was dead and be wide awake and so, so sad.

4.  You can also get grief acne, so that's a thing.

5.  I know I was just complaining about too much booze and carbs, but the grief diet is a good one.  Except, you know, that it sucks so bad.  I am too sad to want to eat and also feel a little sick all of the time.  MY JEANS FIT GREAT. Hashtag fucked up relationship with food.

6.  Kids express grief by being assholes, which is kind of stressful, but no big deal when you remember that as freaked out as you are, they are probably ten thousand times more freaked out than you can even imagine.

7.  Mindfulness helps.  If I can focus on the present moment, I can be mostly OK.

8.  People are going to give you the grief eyes and ask you how you are doing, and the best way to respond is to say "I feel terrible.  This is terrible."  It cuts through you pretending to be OK and them offering some bad advice.  You can both just kind of agree that death sucks, and the conversations are generally really soothing and pleasant.

9.  There's no wrong way to grieve.  Want to go through dirty tub after dirty tub of pictures from the garage?  That's OK.  Want to be super annoyed about the never ending picture bins?  That's OK, too.  Don't judge your feelings.  Just try to ride them out.  Like that one time in college when mushrooms were nothing like you thought they'd be.

10.  Make like Elsa and let it go.  If the me of April 24th knew how infrequently the me of May 5 cleans her house, she'd be scandalized.  Also, I wear giant sunglasses everywhere because I am constantly crying, and I am pretty OK with that.

Ok, that's what I've thought of in the last 10 days.  (I SAW MY DAD 2 WEEKS AGO TODAY AND HE WAS FINE AND WE WENT OUT TO LUNCH AND I HUGGED HIM AND TOOK PICTURES AND THIS SUCKS SO BAD).  What tips do you have?  How do you stop yourself from being overwhelmed by the enormity and the permanence of the loss?  That's where I am really struggling.


  1. Kelly Jo9:31 PM

    I never did learn to take sunglasses with me everywhere - you are smart to have figured that out already! Here's what I learned about grief after mum died in 5 easy steps . . .
    1. "Overwhelmed" was where I lived for at least 6-9 months after her death.
    2. Get ready for Father's Day ads to hit like a punch in the gut. I'm approaching my 2nd mother's day post mum dying and every friggin FB ad for Mother's Day gifts makes me either rage or weep.
    3. Figuring out ways to celebrate/acknowledge things like mum's birthday (I bought Red Lobster biscuits for my class because that was her favorite thing in the world) and the anniversary of her death (I ate about 10 pounds of cheese curds, because those were her second favorite thing in the world) have been good for my spirit.
    4. Seeing a therapist for about 6 months and adjusting my anxiety meds was super helpful. I highly, highly recommend seeing a professional to help navigate grief that can be overwhelming and seemingly never ending.
    5. It wasn't until about a year after mum died that someone shared this Ball and Box analogy: For me, it was perfect timing, and made perfect sense.

    It sounds so trite, but really is true - grief hits us all differently, but the one thing that is the same is that it SUCKS. Sending you patience, friend!

  2. This does suck so bad. I've been thinking about you constantly. Especially the part where he was fine two weeks ago. What a horrible, sudden, shocking thing to experience. You do whatever helps. I wish I had better advice, but I'm sure it would sound trite. I love you and you are an awesome mom and friend. I'm so sorry.

  3. you cant, just accept it and dont try to minimize your feelings
    to me it got better after about 6 months, one day you wake up with more good memories that sad feelings, but still 10 years later the sadness is there. every single day i miss him and wish he was here with me. I guess you learn to live sad?
    a hug from the distance, this is terrible :-(

  4. We are so incredibly saddened to hear this.

    I have been struggling with extreme grief recently and something my neighbor said has really helped me... She said that energy and life are like water vapor and a water droplet. Water vapor surrounds us everywhere, even though it is not visible.
    When water vapor condenses, it forms a water droplet just like when energy condenses, it forms life. Eventually a water droplet dissipates back into water vapor that surrounds us. And eventually a life transforms back into the energy that surrounds us. So in that way we are always surrounded by our loved ones.

    When I remember this, I am sometimes able envelope myself in the presence and love of those that surround me, even if they are not in their original physical form.

    Sending much love <3

  5. No tips - just wanted to say I'm so sorry for your loss.

  6. I only now found your blog posts about your father's passing. A lot sounds familiar, especially my experience.

    Some things I found useful:
    1) Marie Kondo-ing the shit out of house. I compared myself to a pie chart that could only contain so much "meh" feelings. I came home to discover that my house was filled with artifacts of old (failed) friendships and periods of my life. Why was I surrounding myself with so much crap? There's only so much "meh" I can manage, and that shit had to go. It was very cathartic.

    2) Reading "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanigahara (which I actually finished the day my father passed) helped open me up to accepting help from my friends and realizing that I had friends out there willing to help me.

    3) Old ladies stopping by to drop off cold cuts and bread. Jesus, I never knew I wanted to make a triple club sandwich as much as I did the day of my father's funeral.

    4) This October, I recommend you create a Day of the Dead altar for Dias de los Muertos. I know this is more a Mexican/Texan thing, but I set one up the year my father passed. It was a nice activity to help grieve and put together a collection of random things I knew his spirit would enjoy if he came to visit (a lot of was funny: Tom Clancy library books, a ton of nail clippers (because we discovered 50 in his nightstand of them when we were cleaning up after his passing), cheap beer and pretzels (well, he's dead now, so a little booze won't hurt).

    Your experience reminds me of a lot of things that happened with me: awful phone calls I had to make to my sister who didn't quite grok what was going on in Florida when I was there, waking up the morning after reading a text message from a friend saying he was sorry and then bursting out into crying jags, my mother not being able to sleep and just starting to put his clothes in garbage bags at 3am, and going to the grocery store in a daze the next day and getting SO ANGRY at the other 70ish year old people shopping there because they got to be ALIVE.

    We waited 3 months until his actual funeral (on his birthday), so that's the period I always refer to as my "grief" period. After that, I remember returning and saying to myself "I gotta get back to it" (by to it, I decided to start going out on a bunch of dates again -- which could get awkward when someone asked me what I had been up to the past few months). Looking back tho, I have nothing but gratitude for all the love that I ended up receiving from friends during that period. And for someone who manages to bury my feelings very very well (thanks for that personality trait, dad), it was meaningful for me to "feel" something so deeply.

    Love ya,